Rush rush on the bus but it’s not moving quick enough. We left Merida maybe a little late… And at last when we get to the site the ticket booths are closed. But people are behind the closed windows so there must be hope. We ask and knock and try to get attention but in vain. We are left completely ignored. This is my one chance to walk the UNESCO site. My one chance to witness its grandeur and history and beauty. Did I miss it for being a few minutes late? People are on site. The place looks packed. How can it be? In broken Spanish I ask if it’s too late. Just to be completely certain. Before leaving, with my disappointment and my disbelief.
There will be a special entry at 5pm, they answer. A “special tour”. I must simply get to this particular window to purchase a ticket right on time. It seems to be the regular price and I am not sure I understand. What is so special? I am told it’s after opening hours. Simply. That’s it… And it’s enough to convince me. So I wait and wait for the mentioned time. Five minutes to go. Three minutes to go. Finally someone shows up. It’s a normal transaction. About six other people follow. And we wait for instructions. To be let in. Then we’re told to walk to the main pyramid. Would there be a guide? Nothing is clear. But wow it’s massive! Chichen Itza stands before me and I feel alone facing it.
A guide speaks to a couple. No one else seems to pay attention. Most are absorbed in their themed photoshoots. I stare in awe. I snap some shots of my own. And decide to go explore. With less than a dozen of us the site seems even bigger than anticipated. I walk and walk and look and smell and feel. Our small group separating more and more until I am left on my own. It becomes hauntingly calm. I end up in a different section. If it was closed, they forgot one rope. I start to think that no one really knows where I am. Sure my partner knows I’m checking out the site. But being huge, no one really knows… I read a sign. It’s about a burial site. I look down into the dark opening and feel intrigued. Time is running out. I should continue exploring. The calm and aloneness is starting to feel strange. I squeeze by a tree and something inside it seems startled. Something crawling. Or maybe jumping. It makes my heart accelerate. I walk faster. Away from it.
I’ll just check out the church and be on my way back. There’s an access through the wood. I look around and am no longer alone. It’s now me and many chatty birds. But their cries do not reassure me and an increasing nervousness grows inside my chest. Under my skin. I’m almost out of the dark path when a piece of wood falls to the ground. Loudly. The wind? A coincidence? I saw no one there… I glance at the observatory. Quickly. I continue to the church and the nun house – nunnery.
I would normally find it beautiful. Mesmerizing. But the uneasy feeling has followed me here. And the structure appears in front of me as an old ruin full of secrets. Dark secrets. With its dark windows and dark shadows. If only I wasn’t alone, I might have been tempted to explore further. But I convince myself I have to head back. The special tour will end shortly. And it’s a good excuse to go back to safety.
I rush back through the path of birds but then remind myself that I’m a witch. I’ve got this. No bird or branch or crawling animal should scare me. They probably are scared of me. So I slow my pace and enjoy my last moments. I make it back to the main pyramid, El Castillo. It’s bathing in the late sunlight. Glowing. Softly. Peacefully. And the calm is now soothing. I see part of the group. I wander if they too ventured. If they too felt the dark past lingering around us. Until one by one we exit and Chichen Itza is left behind, with its secrets.